The Buckinghams

Kind of a Drag

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Given its source, Kind of a Drag was one of the most extraordinary albums of the 1960s. One expected great, diverse LPs out of the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, among others; by contrast, even the better albums by top garage-punk outfits such as the 13th Floor Elevators generally had a one-note feel to them, or were conspicuously strong in one direction. So when a Chicago-based garage band (or were they a garage band?) like the Buckinghams, with one serious hit (the title track) to their name, put out a long-player that embraced soul, blues, garage punk, and English pop-rock with just about equal aplomb, it must have caught purchasers, radio programmers, and music writers alike off guard. Kind of a Drag isn't the kind of searing punk document that their Windy City rivals the Shadows of Knight presented with their two LPs -- the latter group's work stood next to the Buckinghams roughly where the Who's albums did next to those of the Beatles. The Buckinghams' lean, guitar-driven garage punk versions of "Sweets for My Sweet" (a cover of the Searchers' version, not the Drifters') and the Hollies' "I've Been Wrong" are juxtaposed with a horn-ornamented version of the Beatles' "I Call Your Name" -- on which the lead guitar is playing what sound almost like mandolin riffs; and all are sandwiched between the horn-driven "I'll Go Crazy" and the raw, bluesy "I'm a Man" (patterned after the Yardbirds' rendition, with some twists that are all the Buckinghams' own). They still come off somewhat as light-weights, as on their cover of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," but that's a minor lapse. The Sundazed CD reissue restores "I'm a Man," which was pulled off of the original LP, and it also has about the best sound that this release has ever offered.

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